Tamara Otero

CAJON VALLEY TRUSTEE JILL BARTO FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST DISTRICT, SUPERINTENDENT, AND BOARD OF TRUSTEES

 

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

November 28, 2019 (El Cajon) -- Longtime Cajon Valley Union School District Board member Jill Barto on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the district, Superintendent David Miyashiro and four trustees over what her attorney, Mike Aguirre, alleges are violations of her civil and First Amendment rights.

The suit alleges that since she was re-elected to her seat on the Board of Trustees in November 2018, she experienced retaliation and had her civil rights violated by Miyashiro and others after she questioned Miyashiro’s use of district funds and his travel at district expense.

“The School District Board Superintendent and four other board members have retaliated against Plaintiff and conspired against her in violation of her First Amendment rights under the United States Constitution,” the suit alleges. “Defendant’s retaliatory conduct has repeatedly tried to prevent Plaintiff from fully representing the constituents that elected her to the Board,” it continues. The suit lists does 1-50, leaving open the possibility of adding other defendants.

CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT SPENDS OVER A HALF MILLION DOLLARS ON PROMOTIONAL VIDEOS

Superintendent and school board president refuse to answer questions on videos; recent flash mob video cost over $21,500

Update:  Shortly after publication of this report, the CVUSD responded  to our California Public Records Act requst for documentation of any financial or enrollment benefits received by the district due to its promotional videos on YouTube.  Naomie Rodrigues advised us that that "NO SUCH DOCUMENTS EXIST" but noted that some videos were published on the County Department of Education's website.  View our article on her response and the district's lagging responses to numerous other records requests. 

Photo: Superintendent David Miyashiro in CVUSD flash mob video

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Miriam Raftery, Editor, also contributed to this report.

October 16, 2019 (El Cajon) -- The internet has revolutionized video marketing. From small businesses to government agencies, organizations can now harness resources at YouTube and other online portals to directly market messages to a target audience.

The Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) has utilized its Youtube channel and other social media portals to disseminate professionally produced video marketing and promotional messages for its school projects and World of Work career path program.

Utilizing taxpayer money, the district has produced and promoted impressive videos such as “A Day in the Life of a Cajon Valley Bus Driver,” “Education and business leaders from Vista and Colorado tour Cajon Valley,” an invitation to a Grandparents Day event, Fall Festivals, Madison Avenue Elementary Lemonade Fundraiser, and numerous WoW (World of Work) videos. The District also produces a monthly “broadcast” with news and events directed to school personnel and staff.

Hefty costs

But critics say the CVUSD is making too much of a good thing, since these videos produced by the district have come with a high price tag.

According to information provided to East County Magazine by the CVUSD in response to a public records request, from July 2014 (when David Miyashiro became Superintendent) through June 30, 2019, the district has spent over half a million dollars -- $576,289.60 to be exact -- on marketing and promotional videos.

CAJON VALLEY BOARD TO CONSIDER CIVILITY STANDARDS FOR BOARD MEMBERS, ADMINISTRATORS AND EMPLOYEES—WITH STIFF PENALTIES

 

Update: The board adopted both sets of civility standards 3-0, with members Jill Barto and Jo Alegria absent.

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons by NC-ND

August 13, 2019 (El Cajon) – At tonight’s Cajon Valley Union School District board meeting, the agenda includes proposed governance standards of civility for board members that would allow the district to ask a Grand Jury to remove a board member from office under Government Code section 3060 for engaging in repeated abusive conduct toward other board members, administrators, employees, students or members of the public.

Section 3060 allows a grand jury to take action to remove an elected official for “willful or corrupt misconduct in office” though the statute is vague on what constitutes such actions.

The agenda also includes proposed civility standards for employees and administrators; repeated acts of abusive conduct may result in discipline or ultimately, termination of employment.

Both items were placed on the agenda by Board Chair Tamara Otero, who has publicly clashed with board member Jill Barto on multiple occasions after Barto raised questions on board expenditures including the awarding of a construction contract to a company owned by Otero’s son.

The proposals seek to waive the customary second reading, in order to push through approval on a single vote, while board member Barto is absent due to a family emergency.

CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL DISTRICT MEETING BLOWS UP

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor; Editor Miriam Raftery also contributed to this report

Photo: Board President Tamara Otero

June 11, 2019 (El Cajon) -- The high drama and hijinks which have been commonplace lately at Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) board meetings continued at the May 28th session. At one point the meeting was adjourned during a fracas among individuals outside the board room, overshadowing reports on district accomplishments. The action of adjourning, then reconvening the meeting for subsequent discussion and voting on agenda items raises new legal concerns.

Audio: 

Listen to audio: CVUSD meeting 5-28-19 adjourns in mid-session before reconvening
Excerpts of public comments at 5-28-CVUSD meeting including ECM editor MIriam Raftery and others
Reagles threatens Barto with recall on 5-3-19

CAJON VALLEY BOARD ATTACKS MEDIA, DECLINES TO RECONSIDER OTERO CONSTRUCTION CONTRACT DESPITE CONFLICT OF INTEREST QUESTIONS

By Miriam Raftery and Paul Kruze

May 15, 2019 (El Cajon) – The Cajon Valley Union School District stepped up its war on the media during its May 7th board workshop.  A guard demanded that East County Magazine editor Miriam Raftery and contributing editor Paul Kruze move from the front row to the back, in a clear effort to prevent the investigative journalists from recording an audible copy of the meeting. Both refused, citing First Amendment freedom of the press and the district’s continued non-compliance with California public records act requests to receive audios of past meetings.

 At a subsequent meeting May 14, the guard repeated this demand for Kruze to move out of a front row seat, even threatening to the El Cajon Police for “disruption” if he would not comply. Kruze’s recording device is inobtrusive, about the size of a cell phone. There is nothing inherently disruptive about a journalist quietly recording a meeting, which is a right guaranteed to any citizen by the California Ralph M. Brown Act, the state’s public records act.

These intimidation tactics come after the board admitted destroying recordings of public meetings despite our requests for the recordings.  After receiving a cease and desist letter from an attorney at CalAware, the board on March 29 responded with a letter agreeing to comply with the law, as we reported, but has not done so. The board also voted to retain recordings for a year and make copies available on request. But the  district’s lawyer claims our more records request, along with other emails sent to multiple  people at the district, all went to a spam folder.

Audio: 

Board Workshop Public Comments
Board Workshop complete

CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT OTERO FAILS TO DISCLOSE SON OWNS COMPANY THAT GOT $655,000 CONTRACT

Outbid contractor claims irregularities with bid process

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

April 30, 2019 (El Cajon) - A $655,000 construction contract for a new modular building at Los Coches Creek Middle School  was awarded on March 26 to the son of Cajon Valley Union School District Board of Trustees President Tamara Otero.  In total, 37 contractors “pulled plans” for the project and eight actually submitted bids.

Prior to the vote Otero was asked by fellow board member Jill Barto, “It looks like….is this your husband’s company?” Hear audio. Otero replied, “No,” and immediately brushed off the question, saying the internet connection to her computer on the dais was disconnected. (Barto says she asked about the family connections but her phrase, “and your family” was masked by Otero’s response.)

Tamara Otero is the mother of Dryw Ortero, the owner of Otero Construction, Inc., State Contractors License #1025227, with offices located on the 8400 block of Magnolia Street in Santee. The young company has been in business less than two years, founded in April 2017.

Audio: 

Cajon Valley 3-26-2019

CAJON VALLEY SCHOOL BOARD AMENDS POLICY ON ACCESS TO RECORDINGS OF PUBLIC MEETINGS—AFTER LEGAL DEMAND ON ECM’S BEHALF

CalAware warns district after CVUSD destroys requested school board meeting recordings

By Paul Kruze, Contributing Editor

Updated with CVUSD letter to CalAware)

March 28, 2019  (El Cajon) -- The Cajon Valley Union School District Board of Trustees voted 3-2 on Tuesday to change its policy on board meeting audio recordings. The action came after the district received a legal warning letter from Californians Aware (CalAware) regarding the district’s destruction of recordings from the Dec. and Nov. public meetings requested in a California Public Records Act request by East County Magazine in December.

Instead of destroying audio of board meetings after 30 days, the district will now keep them for one year and will make them available to the public on request on compact disc (CD). The measure, spearheaded by board trustee Jill Barto, was affirmed by Barto along with trustees Karen Clark-Meija and Jim Miller. Cajon Valley Union School District (CVUSD) trustees President Tamara Otero and Jo Alegria voted “no” on the new policy.

The letter addressed to Otero accused the CVUSD of violating multiple sections of the California Government Code relating to its refusal to permit inspection and copying of audiotape recordings made by the District of open and public meetings. The government act violated is more commonly known as the “Ralph M. Brown Act” which legally obligates government agencies and bodies to abide by specific rules regarding open meetings and access to public documents.

Audio: